2 Thessalonians 1 - Final Judgement

You can find my notes and slides in the footer of our web site.
Just click on the links.

We do not hear much about judgement anymore.
This is my first time in 43 years that I have preached a sermon on the topic of eternal punishment.

It's just not something I do.
I have mentioned it hundreds of times, but never focused on it as a topic.
Again, for me the text demands it. I would not have much integrity if I passed over this. At least that is my feeling.

Many of us have heard diminishing comments about old-time preaching of fire and brimestone.
Threats of hell.

Jonathan Edwards was one of the great preachers of the First Great Awakening of American history in the middle of the 18th century.

Before it was the United States of America. We were still an English colony.

He is famous for his sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," where he says that the earth endures us as a burden:

I am sure he is thinking of Romans 8 where Paul says that the creation groans for the redemption.

"...the sun does not willingly shine upon you, to give you light to serve sin and Satan..."

"...the air does not willingly [give] you breath to maintain the vital life in your body, while you spend your life in the service of God's enemies."

Hundreds of people came to Christ listening to the fire and brimstone sermons of Jonathan Edwards.

It should be obvious that I do not think this is how I should preach, or I would have already done so.

But we live in a world where we groan at the thought of anyone suffering punishment for their actions...except for the absolute worst offenders.

As a culture, we believe less and less in punishment.

Almost all of our songs speak of God's wonderful goodness and grace to us:

"Nothing shall separate...even if I ran away...Your love never fails."

"You're a good, good father...and I'm loved by You."

Now, look.
I love these songs.
And I sing them with great passion.

They are true and good.

We are about to read a passage in 2 Thessalonians 1 that should really make you take a step back.

I preach this message today because I think we are given a clear message from the scriptures...and I accept it.

It is not something you hear me speak about very often, but in my opinion, the text demands it.

...God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.
6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you
7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.
This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels.
8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might
10 on the day He comes to be glorified in His holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed.

Look, this is a sober text.
I have read scholars explaining why this is NOT representative of Paul or Jesus.

I have read scholars who maintain that Paul has changed the simple message of Jesus.

I have read scholars who say this text is not Paul and must have been written by someone else. I have read their arguments.

Look, Christian faith has always held to the concept that God will judge all men and women..and that God's judgement is eternal.

Jesus affirms this...and Paul echoes the words of Jesus.

It is true that Paul does not speak about final judgement with this kind of blunt language in any other letter...

But he speaks of God's judgement - for both non-believers AND for Christians in several of his letters.

I am about to do something I typically do NOT do - I am going to be citing various texts from all around the NT. I normally stick to the text at hand, but I want to show how this text we are studying this morning DOES agree with Paul's thinking...and that of Jesus.

So hang with me. And I have listed these passages in the slides and in my notes.
You can go through them on your own.

Some do not like how Paul says God "will pay back trouble to those who trouble you," but he is quoting a Proverb.

In 1 Thessalonians 5 he specifically writes that nobody should repay wrong to another person.
In Romans 12 he says the same thing, but adds:
Do not take revenge...but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge - I will repay, says the Lord.

That is pretty much what he is saying in this text today.

He gives the same quote in Romans 2 speaking of judgement.
In Rom 14 he says we will ALL stand before Christ to be judged.

In 1 Cor 4 he says that when Jesus comes He will expose the motivations of our heart.

In 2 Cor 5:10 he says that we will stand before Christ and receive what we deserve...good or bad.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of coming judgement several times.
James says the Judge is standing at the door!
2 Peter speaks of eternal judgement with punishment.

So this text in 2 Thess is not so unusual.

Many times Jesus speaks about this kind of reckoning:
Matt 24 Jesus says "the Son of Man will come on the clouds" but nobody knows when this will happen so stay alert.

"you must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." v44

It will be good for the servant if the master finds him doing his job when he returns. v46

If the servant is slack...and living recklessly...the master will "assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." v51

Matt 25
The master gives money to each servant, then goes away.
When he returns he asks each servant to give an account. Each is rewarded for his good efforts.

One servant says that he hid his money, afraid he might lose it.
The master says, "You lazy servant..."
v30 "...throw that worthless servant outside into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

So what I done is a quick walk through the NT to show:
1. This blunt language used by Paul is certainly matched by Jesus.
2. Paul speaks about judgement and God giving people what their actions deserve in MANY places.
3. Other NT writers speak of final judgement.
4. Jesus speaks of a final judgement, urging us to be ready and to busy ourselves doing His work.

This does not replace the grace of God.
I am NOT suggesting that we have to work our way into heaven.
You cannot get there by working at it.

But a day of judgement is coming.
The Greek word for "judgement" is "krisis"

None of us want to be in a crisis with God.

You do not have to fear eternal judgement - give yourself to God.

You just need to realize that it is more than accepting Jesus as your Savior...your free ticket to Heaven...or to avoid Hell.

He must also be your Lord...your Master.

I do not fear eternal judgement...but knowing that there will be a judgement has kept me on the straight path many times.

I live my life in a consistent struggle to do what I think He wants.
And I fail.
And I sin.
Then I face Him...ask for forgiveness....and I get up keep running the race.

The message today is simple:

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son...our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
born of the virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate
was crucified, dead and buried.

The third day He rose from the dead
He ascended into heaven...and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.
From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

In light of this, make up your mind...and make Jesus your Lord and Master.

And live for Him...He WILL help you.

LET'S PRAY and then we'll have Jeff lead us in discussion/comment time.

Just close your eyes for a minute.
If you need to commit yourself to Christ in a new way...do it now.
Maybe you just need to say to Him again: "Help me, Jesus. I do want to serve You, but I need your help."

Take a moment right now in quietness to do it.
If you need to ask someone to pray with you, just go to them now.


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Troy Community Church
Christian Fellowship
1300 Henderson Highway
Troy, AL 36079